Philadelphia 76ers (23-40) at Portland Trail Blazers (27-35)
March 9, 2016, 7:00 PST
Watch: CSNNW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Evan Turner (out), Ed Davis (out), Festus Ezeli (out)
76ers injuries: Jerryd Bayless (out), Joel Embiid (out), Gerald Henderson (probable), Richaun Holmes (probable), Jahlil Okafor (doubtful), Ben Simmons (out), Tiago Splitter (out)
SBN Affiliate: Liberty Ballers
Blazer’s Edge Night is finally here! A big thank you to all of you who donated tickets or helped raise awareness in any way; you are the reason this event has continued to grow and brighten the lives of so many children
Amidst all the celebration, an actual game will be played between a surging Trail Blazers team gunning for a season-high fourth win in a row, and the struggling 76ers, who have dropped 13 of their last 19 games.
Not only are the Sixers still in the process of working out “The Process,” they currently resemble a hospital ward more than a basketball team at this point; Jerryd Bayless, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, and Tiago Splitter are all expected to miss tonight’s game, with Gerald Henderson and Richaun Holmes dinged up but probable.
Since the last meeting between these two teams—a heartbreaking 93-92 loss at the hands of a last-second Robert Covington 3-pointer—Philadelphia has also traded away Ersan Ilyasova and Nerlens Noel. Basically, this team is built to tank the rest of the season.
Philadelphia does, however, have some dangerous pieces. Blazer fans have already seen what Covington can do at small forward when he gets hot, and point guard T.J. McConnell has played well over his team’s last 10 games, averaging nearly 10 points and 7 assists. Center Richaun Holmes has shown promise in his limited time behind Philadelphia’s glut of young big men and, should he be able to play, is capable of stretching the floor out past the 3-point line.
Perhaps the biggest bright spot for 76ers fans at the moment is rookie forward Dario Saric. After taking some time to adjust to the NBA game, Saric has seen his production pick up in recent months. Averaging nearly 12 points and seven rebounds a night, Saric still takes too many inefficient shots, but has noticeably worked his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation—especially now that his teammate Embiid is officially out for the season.
The Blazers have yet to win four consecutive games this season, having won three straight on four occasions. With the addition of Nurkic and Lillard, and Aminu seeming refreshed since the All-Star break, Portland seems poised to finally break through that plateau against a bad 76ers team that is playing out the string and looking toward the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery.
The Sixers are the worst offensive team in the league and, while they have a middling defense, the loss of Embiid and Noel from the roster has certainly had an impact. As such, Philadelphia has only allowed fewer than 110 points once in their seven games since the All-Star break. If Portland shows any semblance of the balanced attack they showed against the Thunder on Tuesday, they should run away with this game. Even if things stall and they revert to relying on Lillard and CJ McCollum, they still should have little trouble exacting revenge on Philadelphia.